Spring has certainly sprung. We are not basking in 60 degree temps, watching the grass grow, flowers open and birds and bees buzz around, but that is not what we typically call spring up here in the Keweenaw. Spring is more defined by days with loads of sunshine, temps finding their way near, or a bit above freezing and the loss of some of the snows that have piled up in the past 5 months. That is exactly what has been going on up here for almost a week.
My apologies for not writing last week, but I came down with a pretty nasty stomach bug on the night of the 6th, which ended up having a false recovery until early last week. By that time, I figured I would just wait and write today, so here I am!
It’s been quite the 2 weeks, including another round of significant snow and winds a week ago, which closed the schools for yet another day. I do not know the exact number of those days they have had, but it has been more than usual.
The storm a week ago had enough snow and wind to basically fill in many of the streets with snow all over again. I woke up at 4 to start work and let the pups out and could not believe how much snow we had gotten overnight. It was also blowing pretty hard, so we had some drifting at our house, which is somewhat unusual because we are so protected. It also left us with our deepest depth of the season and the deepest depth in some time. 55″ on the level is what I measured on Monday morning. The depth on the ground was impressive, but the banks were even more. In all the years I have lived here and have been coming up here (28), the banks of snow were the biggest I had ever seen and most locals were saying it was the largest they had seen, except for the winter of 78-79, which is the year they almost hit 400″ for the season.
For the past 7-8 years, one of the marks of how deep the snow is had been how much of the swing set gets buried in snow. If I can no longer see the top rail, then I know we are having a very strong snow season. That top bar disappeared a few weeks ago and by the early part of next week was sitting under around 12-15″ of snow. It is still completely buried, although we have lost a meaningful amount of snow since then.
The loss was not a surprise, in fact, on Friday, the 8th. Even though I knew we still had another storm to go through, but really was getting concerned about the shop roof. The forecast for the following week called for warmer temps and even a chance for rain. So I wanted to make sure that the roof cleared itself before the rains hit. To accomplish that, I got up there with the pups and the 4 of us removed the snow along the ridge. By doing that from one end to the other, it would separate the two slabs on each side and make them more ready to slide.
The weekend storm came and brought a bit of warm air with it. That little bit of warmer air allowed a portion of the one side of the roof to clear, but about 80% of the entire shop roof still had the snow on it.
So once we got into the first bit of temps above freezing, I cranked the heat up in the shop and also put a propane heater so that it was blowing its heat into the attic of the shops, to help warm the underside of the metal and get the snow to slide. I did not see it happen, but I did hear and feel it! I stopped my work for a moment and went outside to see if all the snow had slid, or just another section of it. Turns out, all of it slid!
In that one area where I took the last shot, the snow piled up onto the ground so much, that it did not allow all of the snow to slide off the roof, but the amount remaining there was not worrisome to me, so I did clear what I could off the ground with Big Red and left the rest as is.
By Wednesday evening. the only roof to not clear then was the front half of the woodshed. It just seemed to be taking its own sweet time. By the next morning, the part hanging off the roof had broken off and all that was left was small enough that it did not concern me. So before the real rains of Thursday hit, all of my roofs were either completely bare, or without too much so on them that I had any concern.
The rains of Thursday further melted snow on the roofs, as well as on the ground. Including the thick mat of snow on the driveway that had built up all season. Actually, I was able to keep the mat rather thin until around the end of February and then got behind the curve and it just kept getting deeper and deeper. The driveway was getting soft but was not that bad until around midday on Thursday. I almost got the truck stuck in around 7-8″ of slushy snow. I knew Nora and Grace would be getting home later that afternoon, so I hopped in Big Red and got to work in moving that snow and slush off the driveway.
Big Red’s blower can actually do a pretty good job moving that kind of sloppy mess. The main problem is when I finish up a run and the blower slowly runs out of stuff to shoot through it. The lower volume causes the chute to clog and it is a real pain to unclog. So after the third unclogging, I decided I would just use the blower unit to plow the mess to an area that we do not really need to be clear. It took over two hours from start to finish, but at the end, I was very successful in removing all of the sloppy snow and all that was left was a thin layer of the initial mat. In some cases all that was left was the bare driveway. That was another big relief, as I knew I would not have to deal with the mat anymore this season. There have been years when it took several, smaller, clearing jobs to finally not have to worry about removing any more snow. When I finished up with the mat work, I got on my computer and scrolled through the different web cams up here to see how other areas were holding up to the warmer temps and rain. One of the Michigan Tech web cams was displaying a really cool image, so I took a snapshot of it, so I could share it with you.
Those of you that also check the web cams on this site likely noticed that I did not clear the snow off the AL Cam pretty much all season. Part of that was that with the addition, it makes it more difficult to get to, especially when the snow starts to get deeper. I cannot keep a path open to it, so I need to trounce through the snow to get to it.
By early January, the first roof slide took place and made the trek to clear it even more difficult. By late February, the snow was so deep in the area I have to use to get there, that travel was beyond difficult, it was impossible. This is the reason why. I should have trained the pups how to clear the snow off of it and then all my problems would have been taken care of! On a more serious note, I will be making it a priority for next season to have a new spot for the AL Cam that will allow me to clear it every day…just like in the old days!
The weather this week looks to be just about as perfect as for what we need right now. The daytime temps will be getting into the upper 30’s and even some low 40’s, but then dropping back below freezing at night. Lots of sunshine and no rain or snow. So it will be perfect weather for slowly, but steadily melting off some of our snowpack without causing problems. If we can remove about half of what we have remaining right now in such a manner, then that will significantly reduce the chances for significant flooding. It will also put huge smiles on all of the maple syrup makers!
The final bit of business and photo I have to share with you is the Laurium Glacier. It is that time of the year when I will be starting up the contest. I will be putting a discussion in the discussion board under the miscellaneous section, called “The Official 2019 Laurium Glacier Meltdown Contest” at around 9 am eastern time tomorrow. You can go there, post your guess (you have to have a profile to post, they are free, so be sure to register for one before you go to guess) and have the chance to win some Keweenaw Kamo swag! For those reading this tonight and wanting to guess, you get a little sneak peak of what the Laurium Glacier looks like this year.
Good night from the Keweenaw..